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The Beauty Memo

The 13 best beauty products of 2021

Planning to reinvigorate your beauty regimen for the new year ahead? Then be inspired by these standout products that will up the ante for everything from your skin and body to your makeup and hair. By NEWBY HANDS

Clockwise from bottom left: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster; Kora Organics Noni Glow Sleeping Mask; Nars Climax Mascara in Explicit Black; Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Bronzer; Gucci Beauty Rouge à Lèvres Satin; Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector; Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book: The Art of Sculpting & Defining Vol III; Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel

Epara Intense Hydrating Mask

Using potent African botanicals, this wonderful range was developed by Nigeria-born founder Ozohu Adoh to help calm her own reactive skin and minimize hyper-pigmentation and scarring for women of color. Treating the excess of melanin, it fades dark spots without general whitening, while the active ingredients (plankton extract in particular) work to even out skin tone. Plus, this mask works brilliantly for skin that’s looking flat, dull and in need of an extra shot of hydration.

Lilah B. Aglow Priming Oil

A truly incredible glow-giver, this really is ‘glass skin’ in a bottle. Part oil, part primer, it might start off feeling a bit oily, but then it sinks in and settles to leave skin nourished and with a beautiful dewy finish. It’s also excellent dabbed along cheekbones for an instant glow. The subtle lavender scent is an added bonus.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Bronzer

Taking inspiration from her deservedly famous pressed powder (which leaves skin velvety, not powdery), the beauty of this bronzer is that it gives skin a real day-in-the-sun glow rather than an obviously faux, shimmery-bronzer ‘tan’. Silky and ultra-sheer, use it on the forehead, along cheekbones and over the bridge of the nose to add color, or under the cheekbones and jawline to sculpt and define the face.

Gucci Beauty Rouge à Lèvres Satin

Yes, this lipstick has a beautiful, luxe texture and comes in a range of finishes, but what ultimately sets this collection apart is the genius color selection. Focusing on practically every stunning shade of nude (brown, pink, neutral and lilac tones) and red (from hot pink to a deep, dark berry), if you are still looking for your perfect lipstick, you are sure to find it here.

Nars Climax Mascara in Explicit Black

Virtually a sell-out since launch, this mascara gives lashes length, lift and curl, and it coats them in a really intense black (why are so many mascaras in a dingy shade of gray-black?). Plus, it hydrates and deep-treats so that lashes are left looking rich and glossy, not dry and flaky.

Kora Organics Noni Glow Sleeping Mask

Sleep-in masks seem to be overtaking the humble night cream – and for good reason. Like a pumped-up version of your usual bedtime skincare, these masks excel at deeply hydrating the skin overnight (skin naturally dehydrates while we sleep), so that you wake up with plumper and juicier-looking skin. Even better, this natural-based formula sinks into the skin and won’t transfer on to your pillow. Nor does it leave your face feeling oily or looking shiny. It also works equally well used in the day – especially when traveling.

111Skin Anti Blemish Bio Cellulose Facial Mask

Whether dealing with oily skin, adult acne, teenage breakouts or the recent arrival of maskne’, this super-smart sheet mask makes an excellent addition to any skincare regimen. The upper half specifically treats diet-related and oily-skin breakouts, while the lower half contains ingredients that help calm inflammation (common in all breakouts and caused by the friction of wearing face coverings) and hormonal breakouts. But, unlike so many other spot treatments, this mask is designed to give you a clear complexion while soothing, calming and hydrating the skin.

Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel

Never underestimate the value of a great cleanser. It may seem mundane, but ask any dermatologist and they will tell you that the right cleanser is the starting point of good skin. Too strong and it strips away natural oils along with the dirt and makeup, leaving skin sensitive, dehydrated and prone to extra oiliness. This formula, however, is excellent. With a lightweight, creamy, gel-like texture, it deep-cleans but also hydrates, so that skin is left clean and very comfortable.

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

Olaplex is an amazing all-rounder, as it seems to work on all hair types (straight and straightened, curly and afro) and, if your hair has some sort of damage, it can repair it. Unlike normal conditioners, it doesn’t coat or smooth but actually repairs the broken bonds in the hair that are the result of coloring, chemical treatments or general styling. Use post-shampoo and leave on for at least 10 minutes (I sleep in it) and, from the first use, hair feels stronger and looks shinier – but never feels flat or over-conditioned.

U Beauty The Super Smart Hydrator

If you have dry or dehydrated skin, then this could be the ideal cream for you. With five types of water-boosting hyaluronic acid, and the capacity to hydrate the skin in the areas that really need it, it is – as it claims – a very smart cream. But what really sets this apart is its wonderful texture. Initially, it feels a little rich (although no cream can ever be too rich for those with extremely dry skin), but give it a moment and it sinks in to leave an arid complexion feeling supple, healthy and glowing.

NuFace NuBody Skin Toning Device

If you already know and love the NuFace microcurrent device, then you will have some idea of what this can do for the body. FDA-cleared (for the actual device, not just the general technology), simple and painless to use, you first apply the conductive gel to the area of skin to be smoothed and firmed and then work the device over it. Stick with the program – five minutes a day, five days a week, for two months – and you will see lasting changes. It’s not a cure for cellulite, and nothing replaces eating well and exercise, but keep using it, and it certainly makes a difference you can see.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

There is a reason why the same active ingredients appear time and again in skincare over the years – they work and are clinically proven to do so. So, alongside retinol and vitamin C, niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) may not be new, but it really delivers – and in a multitude of ways. It gives you smoother and brighter skin, evens out skin tone and treats breakouts. It also helps to minimize – and even tighten – pores. In the most effective percentage, this is a great serum to slot into your daily regimen.

Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book: The Art of Sculpting & Defining Vol III

Famous for creating many ’90s supermodel magazine-cover looks, Kevyn Aucoin was also the makeup artist whose books showed real women how to recreate his iconic looks at home. And this genius collection of three shades of the bestselling Sculpting Powders (light, medium and dark), plus two Celestial Powders to highlight and bronze, is your perfect ‘face’ in a palette.